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Nigerian commission sets presidential primary and election dates

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Primaries will be held from November 26 through January 15
  • The presidential election will be April 9
  • Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar will challenge President Goodluck Jonathan

Lagos, Nigeria (CNN) -- Party primaries for Nigeria's presidential election will begin November 26, the Independent National Electoral Commission announced Tuesday.

The primaries, which will continue through January 15, were originally scheduled for October, but were postponed by the commission. The presidential election, originally to be held in January, will be April 9.

President Goodluck Jonathan, who became president after the death of Umaru Yar'Adua earlier this year, is running for election to the office. He will be challenged in the primaries by another former vice president of Nigeria.

Atiku Abubakar emerged Monday as the consensus candidate put forward by a bloc of leaders from Nigeria's influential Northern Political Leaders Forum, which announced in September that it would name someone to take on Jonathan in the presidential primaries for the People's Democratic Party.

Abubakar served as vice president under Olusegun Obasanjo from 1999 to 2007.

Under Nigerian "zoning" rules, power must shift to between regions and ethnic groups every eight years.

Jonathan -- who is from the Niger Delta, in the south -- was part of the joint ticket with Yar'Adua, who was from the north. He was elected in 2007. Because Jonathan took office after Yar'Adua's death in May, the northern leaders say the presidency should rotate back to the north. Jonathan disputes that.

Voter registration for the presidential election will be January 15-29.

CNN's Christian Purefoy contributed to this report.